The Cask of Amontillado Essay Examples and Topics

by Edgar Allan Poe

Essay Examples
Essay Topics
Brief overview

Best topics on The Cask of Amontillado

Some literature is eternal in academic circles, and The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe could easily be characterized as such. This is a short horror story that unravels ... the human psyche. Writing on such a unique and small piece of literature might seem easy, but when there are so many things you could write about, it’s hard to find a structure for you’re the Cask of Amontillado essay. This story was first published in 1845 in an issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. The story is set in an Italian city at carnival time (the name of the city is unknown, and so is the year), and it is about a man that takes a revenge on a friend that insulted him. If you’ve read other stories by Poe, you might have encountered a similar narrative – a person being buried alive. The two other stories where the narrator is the murderer, often compared with each other in a comparison or analysis essay, are “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. In the story, Montesor invites his friend Fortunato to sample amontillado to the family vaults i.e. catacombs. This is a trap and in the story, 50 years have passed and the body of Fortunato has never been disturbed. While to some it seems that the reasons for revenge are unclear in this story, and argue that Montesor is insane, Poe leaves some clues about his history. He portraits a history where Montesor’s family dies prior to the time of the story, and he blames his friend for it. So, what does a student write about when tasked to review this short story? Even though it is short, it has many elements, symbols, as well as an intriguing story in it. This story has been adapted several times over the years, which opens up even more essay topics for you to tackle in your essay. You can speak of different adaptations of the original and compare them, or compare Poe’s stories with this one. Even though the subject matter of the story is a murder, this is not a tale of detection like in some other stories. Your paper can compare The Cask of Amontillado with “The Purloined Letter”, where there is an investigation in the crime and the criminal. Another good idea is to try to solve the mystery i.e. pose some ideas of what might have been the reason behind the revenge. You can also research the main character and his actions, and try to determine what prompted him to take such action. There are so many options for you to choose from, but hopefully the essay examples here will help you get some ideas. You can also go through our The Cask of Amontillado summary to learn more about the symbolism in the short story. By reading our essays that compare different Poe stories, analyze the moral dilemma in the piece, or speak of the murders and imagery in it, you can get inspired on what to write about and how to start. Take a look at our topic sentence, how we introduce the topic, and how we argue points of views and ideas without re-telling the entire piece.

November 1846


Edgar Allan Poe


Short story



Major Characters

Montresor, Fortunato

Based on
Symbols / Motives

Murder, crime, mystery, murder motive, revenge, punishment


Poe’s personal rival, Thomas Dunn English, published a revenge-based novel in 1846 (the novel was called 1844). It made references to secret societies, which Poe used in this short story. In addition, the author may have been inspired by the Washingtonian movement - a group of reformed drinkers.


The story is set at carnival time in an unspecified Italian town. It’s about a man murdering a friend out of revenge for an insult. The insult and injuries that led to this event aren’t named, and that’s the element of mystery in the story’s plot. Montresor lures the fellow nobleman (Fortunato) to join him on a private wine-tasting excursion. In one moment, Montresor hesitates and suggests going back, but Fortunato wants to continue the tour.

Montresor murders Fortunato by chaining him to the wall and entoming him alive.

Why Is This Topic Important?

It’s an interesting mystery that invites the reader to think about a murder’s motives. Poe doesn’t provide much context for the murder’s motives. The reader is left to explore the character’s personality and gestures and assume what led to the grotesque murder scene.

Main Ideas

Where does the idea and willpower for murder come from? A simple matter can be exaggerated so much in a person’s head that it can lead them to horrific acts.

Key Quotes
  • “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”
  • “My heart grew sick - on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!”
Interesting Facts

Connoisseurs of Poe’s life and work believe he’s been experienced in bricklaying himself. It’s unclear what he did after leaving the periodical he worked at. A source revealed that he’s been working in a brickyard.

Arguments For

The short story is an excellent representative of the horror genre. Poe was a masterful writer, who carries the reader through the murder’s psyche.

Arguments Against

It’s a deeply disturbing story, so not everyone will enjoy it.

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